Failing to Learn!

The learning leaders do

It is a given today that the role of a school is to be a learning organisation as well as a teaching organisation.

Learning as a classroom teacher is largely about learning how to have a more effective practice and become a more effective colleague so that student learning – in all its forms – is enhanced.


The learning of leaders, whilst continuing in the above vein, also includes learning how to help create a better organisation. This parallels the emerging idea that leaders ‘nudge’ complex organisations forward.

‘Nudging’ occurs by finding something worth working on and then marshalling resources to do the work necessary to effect a change. If it works, great! If not, then smooth things out and start again. Failing is an integral part of learning.

One of the stumbling blocks to nudging things forward is being able to find things that, if changed, would enhance the organisation’s ability to improve learning and outcomes for staff and students alike.

This is cognitively demanding work. We need to identify things we might change that could have a real impact and we also need to change our own view to accommodate this new thinking - we need to convince ourselves- so that we can make it happen.

There are four ways we can do this work of finding projects to work on: Inspiration (e.g. brainstorming), Consultation (e.g. surveying parents or students), Excavation (e.g. digging into the past), Observation (e.g. of classroom practice).

We can be quite systematic in doing this work.

John Corrigan